November 10, 2013

THE OBAMA ECONOMY AND A NEW ARISTOCRACY: Is Downton Abbey The Future Of The US Economy?

Steinsson and Nakamura aren’t the only ones looking to employ people in service jobs. While they seem to pay people for one-off tasks or on a part-time basis, the WSJ reports that demand for full-time live-in domestic help is growing rapidly, including for chefs, housekeepers, estate managers, and even maids and butlers. The return of butlers and maids is attention grabbing enough, but the story is full of many other eye-popping details. The pay, for instance, can rise as high as 200,000 dollars thousand a year for a butler, and some agencies say families have begun to build separate kitchens in their houses for the kitchen staff in order to maintain family privacy.

These Downton-esque luxuries may seen irrelevant to the wider trends deciding the future of American employment, but in fact they represent the growing class of service jobs that could become a significant part of our economy, especially if we find ways to facilitate the transition to a service-based economy. As manufacturing and clerical jobs decline, creating enough demand for service labor will push wages up to good levels. It is the relationship of supply and demand which is fundamentally behind the stagnant wages we see today. Figuring out how to change that will get living standards moving in the right direction again.

There’s nothing dishonorable about domestic service, but this isn’t the Hope And Change we were promised. Then again, they don’t call him President Goldman Sachs for nothing.

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